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Indian Affairs Committee Finds Infrastructure Needs Impact Poverty and Safety 

May 4, 2022 by Alexa Hornbeck
Indian Affairs Committee Finds Infrastructure Needs Impact Poverty and Safety 

The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs held a hearing Wednesday to discuss road projects for Native communities through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

President Joe Biden signed the act into law in November 2021, with a total of $1.2 trillion in investments for U.S. infrastructure. 

Of those funds, $3.1 billion was allocated for tribal communities, including a $466 million investment for Bureau of Indian Affairs infrastructure projects and climate resiliency initiatives, $150 million for tribal orphan wells, and a historic investment of $2.5 billion to help the department fulfill preexisting settlements of Native American water rights claims.

Studies show Native Americans are more likely to lose their lives in car crashes than any other group, and the funding will allow the Tribal Transportation Program Safety Fund to award more competitive grants to tribes to develop transportation safety plans. 


Infrastructure investments may also help reduce poverty for Great Plains tribes, according to Harold Frazier, chairman of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe and president of the Great Plains Tribal Chairmen’s Association.


“How can we ever attract businesses and create good jobs when the most basic component of infrastructure is lacking?” Frazier asked committee members.

By way of example, Frazier said Native communities in need of emergency response often must navigate poorly maintained gravel roads that regularly flood and become impassable.

The bipartisan infrastructure law increased authorization for funding for BIA road maintenance up to $50 million in 2022, and to $58 million in fiscal year 2026. 


Frazier said this is only a fraction of what is needed, as they have a $300 million backlog on road maintenance.

Alexa can be reached at [email protected]

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